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GEORGE LAZENBY

George Lazenby

Born George Robert Lazenby
5 September 1939
Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Occupation Actor, model

George Lazenby – IMDb

George Lazenby | James Bond Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

George Lazenby | James Bond Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

George Robert Lazenby /ˈleɪzənbi/ (born 5 September 1939) is an Australian actor and former model best known for his portrayal of James Bond in the Eon series in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He was 29 years old, making him the youngest actor to date to have portrayed the character. Lazenby is also the only Bond actor to receive a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor.

Prior to appearing as Bond, Lazenby was a model and appeared in advertising. After declining to do another Bond film, Lazenby’s career stalled in that decade and he moved into business and invested in real estate. He later appeared in several films and television series, including roles spoofing the James Bond character. In 2017, a documentary entitled Becoming Bond was released on Hulu, featuring Lazenby recounting his life story.

Lazenby has been married twice, first to Christina Gannett (1971–1995) (heiress to the Gannett News Service publishing empire) and then from 2002 to 2008 to tennis player Pam Shriver.

Lazenby was born in 1939 in Goulburn, New South Wales, at Ovada Private Hospital, to railway worker George Edward Lazenby and Sheila Joan Lazenby (née Bodel), who worked at Fosseys. He went to Goulburn Public School in his primary years, and Goulburn High School until either 1953 or 1954. His sister, Barbara, was an accomplished dancer. When he was young he spent 18 months in hospital after having an operation which left him with only half a kidney.

When Lazenby was about 14 he moved with his family from Goulburn to Queanbeyan, where his father ran a store. He worked as a car salesman and mechanic, before serving in the Australian Army.

Lazenby moved to London in 1963 to pursue a woman he’d fallen in love with. He became a used car salesman in Finchley, then sold new cars in Park Lane. He was spotted by a talent scout who persuaded him to become a model, and he was soon earning £25,000 a year. He was best known for an advertisement for Big Fry Chocolate. In 1966 he was voted Top Model of the Year.

In 1968, after Sean Connery had left the role of James Bond, producer Albert R. Broccoli first met Lazenby when they were getting their hair cut at the same barber. He later saw him in the Big Fry commercial and felt he could be a possible Bond, calling him in for a screen test.

Lazenby dressed for the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit, which had been ordered, but not collected, by Connery.

Broccoli offered him an audition. The position was consolidated when Lazenby accidentally punched a professional wrestler, who was acting as stunt coordinator, in the face, impressing Broccoli with his ability to display aggression. Director Peter R. Hunt later claimed:

“ We wanted someone who oozed sexual assurance, and we think this fellow has that. Just wait til the women see him on screen … I am not saying he is an actor. There is a great deal of difference between an actor and a film star. Didn’t they find Gary Cooper when he was an electrician? ”
In July 1969 Lazenby returned home to Queanbeyan to see his parents. He said he had 18 films to consider. “But it’s all commercial rubbish, such as the guy getting the girl at the end of the Battle of Britain”, he said. “I’ll just have to wait and see”. At this stage Lazenby said he intended to make the next Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun.

In November 1969, prior to the release of the film, Lazenby announced that he no longer wished to play the role of James Bond, saying, “[The Producers] made me feel like I was mindless. They disregarded everything I suggested simply because I hadn’t been in the film business like them for about a thousand years.”[19]

His co-star Diana Rigg was among many who commented on this decision:

“ The role made Sean Connery a millionaire. It made Sean Connery … I truly don’t know what’s happening in George’s mind so I can only speak of my reaction. I think it’s a pretty foolish move. I think if he can bear to do an apprenticeship, which everybody in this business has to do – has to do – then he should do it quietly and with humility. Everybody has to do it. There are few instant successes in the film business. And the instant successes one usually associates with somebody who is willing to learn anyway.[20] ”
Rigg was also quoted as saying, “I can no longer cater for his obsession with himself. He is utterly, unbelievably … bloody impossible”.”I draw a veil over the chap”, said Desmond Llewelyn (who played Q in 17 Bond films). “How can you expect someone who’s never acted before … to take on a leading role?”

Lazenby grew a beard and long hair. “Bond is a brute … I’ve already put him behind me. I will never play him again. Peace – that’s the message now”, he announced.

He said:
“ I much prefer being a car salesman to a stereotyped James Bond. My parents think I’m insane, everybody thinks I’m insane passing up maybe millions of pounds. Nobody believed me. They thought it was a publicity stunt. But it’s just me doing my own thing. ”
He later elaborated:

“ Fantasy doesn’t interest me. Reality does. Anyone who’s in touch with the kids knows what’s happening, knows the mood. Watch pop music and learn what’s going to happen. Most film-makers don’t watch and aren’t in touch. People aren’t going to films because film-makers are putting out films people don’t want to see. As for the so-called “Tomorrow movies” they are only tomorrow movies with yesterday directors … Actors aren’t all that important. Directors are. I’m terribly impressed with Dennis Hopper. I’d like to work for him. I also like Arthur Penn, John Schlesinger and Peter Yates … What I’m going to do is look for a great director first, a good screenplay second. Meanwhile, no more Bond. I make better money doing commercials.

In the mid-1970s, he appeared in a number of television movies shot in Australia, and an episode of the local police drama series Matlock Police.[ He also returned to modelling, appearing in a number of advertisements for Benson and Hedges cigarettes.

A few years later he told an Australian magazine, “I got a few roles but nothing spectacular, yet I was ready, willing and able to work. I just don’t think I’m going to make it here. If something good came along I’d stay, though.”

In the late 1970s Lazenby moved to Hollywood where he started taking acting lessons and set about trying to reactivate his career. “I enjoy the States, to be quite honest about it”, he said. “I’ve got an American wife and green card so I have the best of both worlds.”[46]